Many of my clients are young African American males whom range from the ages of 18-28. Most of these young men do not have high school diplomas and are unemployed. The NAACP reports that almost half the prison population in the U.S. are made up of African Americans. A staggering 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated individuals in the United States are black men.
Many factors that unfortunately make this the inevitable are social as well as economic isolation. The disparities faced along racial lines are real. The discussion on race and the law is essential and must be had. In addition to that, we must address rehabilitation and the effectiveness of the correctional system in our country. It is believed that two-thirds of prisoners will offend again once released. It goes to show that a prison sentence does not necessarily rehabilitate behavior in offenders.
We need our Courts to help implement more rehabilitative programs and other alternatives to a jail or prison sentence. Educational and occupational alternatives will give youth the ability to choose a different path in creating new and potentially great opportunities to get young people off the streets. It is estimated that 70 billion dollars are spent a year in corrections. If a small fraction of that for programs that actually helped these individuals, we can minimize the number of repeat offenders drastically.
Crime is a learned trait. It is something that offenders will often explain as their only method of survival. And indeed in many situations it very well could be. If we implement programs that help eliminate economic and social isolation by removing the systemic barriers created based on race and background, and seek to uplift people regardless of their color or creed, we can bring a change to the crisis we face in our country today.
Let us not allow our society to shape its identity with broad stereotypical brushes based on our race, religion, or color. Let us identify as human beings trying to build a better society for our children, one that does not judge them by the color of their skin but rather by the breadth of their minds and their willingness to uplift others.